What Will Happen if Car Wheels are Unbalanced?

You may get this question in your driving theory test:

What will happen if your car’s wheels are unbalanced?

  1. The steering will pull to one side.
  2. The brakes will fail.
  3. Your steering will vibrate.
  4. Your tyres will deflate.

The answer? It’s C: If your car’s wheels are unbalanced, your steering wheel will vibrate at certain speeds. And you don’t want your steering wheel to vibrate. This can be uncomfortable and distracting and may cause you to lose control of your car at high speeds.

What Are Unbalanced Wheels?

When wheels are “balanced”, it means that the tyre’s weight is evenly distributed all around the circumference of the tyre. This means that the tyre will roll evenly across the road, as it was designed to do so.

When we talk about “unbalanced wheels” (or “unbalanced tyres”), it basically means that this weight is not evenly distributed. As a result, the heavier side of the tyre will pull down on the road more than the lighter side.

wheel balancing

Why Are Unbalanced Wheels a Problem?

Unbalanced wheels can lead to vibrations in the steering wheel, which in itself is a major hazard.

In the long term, unbalanced wheels can lead to:

  • Uneven and premature wear on your tyres.
  • Reduced handling and stability – the car might start pulling to one side, for instance.
  • More widespread vibrating, including in the seat or floorboard, and a loud buzzing sound.
  • More serious problems with your car’s suspension system.

Do I Need to Get My Wheels Balanced?

When checking your car in for a service, or when getting a new tyre fitted, the garage may offer to balance your wheels. As we’ve seen, it’s a very good idea to ensure your car’s tyres are balanced. So if your garage offers to balance your tyres, say yes!

Garages have specialist machines to show how your car’s tyres are balanced. If they find any imbalance, where necessary they can add small weights to the rims to create the necessary balance.

Some garages may offer balancing for free as part of a servicing but others offer it as an optional extra. They may charge you a fee per tyre, and if you drive a rare or luxury vehicle, you may have to pay more.

Is it worth the cost? Absolutely. When your wheels are perfectly balanced, you can enjoy a smoother and quieter ride, with a better fuel economy. You’ll also benefit from improved handling and braking, and you’ll significantly enhance the life expectancy of your tyres, and of critical car systems including your suspension, shocks, and bearings.

The Importance of Regular Servicing

Regular servicing keeps everything in your car running like it should. A well maintained car can help prevent road accidents and enable drivers to build up a no claims bonus which will help experienced and young drivers save on their insurance.

No matter how much you pay for services like wheel balancing, trust us: it’s money well spent!


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